Teacher Accused of Stealing $100K

Mark Gruntzel suspended without pay, faces dismissal

Monday, Jan 10, 2011  |  Updated 10:00 PM CDT
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A Walt Disney Magnet School teacher faces dismissal after he allegedly stole nearly $100,000 in tuition fees and PTA funds, authorities say.

Mark Gruntzel, 43, allegedly told investigators he took the money because he was broke.

The theft of $56,486 in $75-a-week tuition fees collected over a two-year period from parents at the lakefront Buena Park elementary school was uncovered in a report by Chicago Public Schools Inspector General James M. Sullivan.

The report also alleges Gruntzel stole $40,030 from the school’s Parent Teacher Association account.

He has been suspended without pay and faces dismissal at a disciplinary hearing, CPS spokeswoman Monique Bond said, adding that Gruntzel has been a CPS teacher for 17 years.

Disney Magnet principal Kathleen Hagstrom referred the case for investigation last year and CPS is attempting to recover the stolen funds, Bond added.

The case also is being investigated by the Cook County State’s Attorney, according to the Inspector General’s report, but no charges have been filed, according to State’s Attorney spokesman Andy Conklin.

The Inspector General’s report, released last week, was also critical of the right of principals at magnet schools to handpick a handful of students.

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